St George is no crusader

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The religion and society think-tank Ekklesia has welcomed a new painting of St George, the patron saint of England, which portrays him as a man of compassion and challenges the myth of 'the crusader'.

'St George and the Dead Soldier', by leading artist Scott Norwood Witts, has been unveiled at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St George, Southwark, in London to coincide with his 'day' on 23 April 2008. http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/7013

“I hope many people get a chance to view this moving painting,” said Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow. “Facing our true humanity, something that lies at the heart of ‘St George and Dead Soldier’, points us beyond the glorification of power and violence towards a service of others which embraces the vulnerability of Christ.”

Ekklesia produced a report last year entitled When the Saints Go Marching Out: Redefining St George for a new era.

It caused some controversy by drawing attention to the fact that while subsequent myth had portrayed the saint in relation to crusades (religious wars), the earliest traditions about him were as an honourable dissenter against oppression who chose a risky path in challenging the Emperor and paid for it with his life.